Airborne Observations

One of NEON’s goals is to provide detailed aerial data about regional landscapes and vegetation. This will be accomplished via the remote sensing arm of NEON, called the Airborne Observation Platform (AOP). The AOP platforms will consist of instrumentation deployed on three aircraft that fly scientist-defined and routine patterns over all NEON sites. The aircraft-mounted instrumentation includes an imaging spectrometer operating in the visible to shortwave IR spectral region, a waveform light detection and ranging (wLiDAR) instrument, and a high-resolution digital camera. The imaging spectrometer is used to create an image of the ground at narrow wavelength bands in the visible and short wave infrared parts of the light spectrum. The wLiDAR sends out a laser pulse and measures the time difference between the outgoing and returning light to determine the structure of vegetation and buildings below. The digital camera provides detailed aerial views of the regional landscape. The AOP instrument suite will provide regional observations of:

  • Land use;
  • Vegetation structure;
  • Biochemical and biophysical properties of vegetation; and
  • Ecosystem responses to changes in land use, climate, and the movement of invasive species.

These observations will provide a means for scaling data taken from small areas on the ground at all of the NEON sites to the continental scale. The observations of the AOP, in addition to data collected via the FSU and FIU programs, will allow scientists to study ecology at a continental scale.

Prototype Data Sharing

As part of NEON’s design and development activities, a number of data sets are being collected. These data are being collected to aid in designing protocols, to test protocols, assess the level of effort required for executing protocols, and to design infrastructure (e.g. cyberinfrastructure) to support sample and data collection in the field. These data sets have different levels of processing, QA/QC and independent verification than the long term data sets we anticipate from the facility. NEON will make these data available to the community under its open data policy, but until the NEON information system is completed, distribution and documentation will be on an “as-is” basis. Prototype data sets, during 2011 through 2013, will be available to educational, technology and scientific users by request, and some data will be available online in a basic archive format. Interested users may request access to these prototype data sets via NEON's Prototype Data Sharing system. Every reasonable request for information and support will be addressed, however, these data are on an “as-is” basis and, depending on staff time availability, support may be limited. Please address all requests and problems to the Project Scientist.

Spatial and Temporal Scaling in Continental-Scale Ecology Workshop

A workshop focused on scaling of ecological data from small scales to the continental scale was hosted by the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) on 11-12 June 2012 in Boulder, Colorado and was attended by over 50 researchers. We've set up a page that provides information about the workshop as well as links to the archived presentations.

Relevant publications

NEON: The first continental-scale ecological observatory with airborne remote sensing of vegetation canopy biochemistry and structure
Thomas U. Kampe, Brian R. Johnson, Michele Kuester, and Michael Keller
J. Appl. Remote Sens., Vol. 4, 043510 (2010); doi:10.1117/1.3361375
Published 17 March 2010
Open-access link to paper: